Boom Box Post Shares Their Work on 'Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie' and 'Waffles & Mochi's Restaurant'

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Boom Box Post is a boutique post-production sound studio founded by Jeff Shiffman and Kate Finan on a passion for design. They are just as comfortable designing laser sound effects with the newest synthesizer as they are setting up a microphone to custom-record a new monster vocal. Their sonic toolbox is deep, and with a culture founded on company-wide creativity and direct designer-to-client interaction, they have the ability to aggressively meet every project's needs with speed, passion, and technical ease.

We recently spoke to co-founders Jeff Shiffman and Kate Finan about their work on the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie and Waffles & Mochi's Restaurant. 

PH: Your respective work on Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie and Waffles + Mochi's Restaurant have been submitted for a Children and Family Emmy for sound mixing and sound design. What were each of your creative processes like when crafting the sound for these two projects?

Jeff Shiffman: Our team had worked on the Rise television series for a few years before the movie came about, so we had a firm grasp on the sound of the project. That said, the film really ups the ante in terms of scope and scale. My directive for the sound team was to notch everything up to match that change in scale and wherever we could find opportunities for brand new creative sound design, to really go for it. We’ve got aliens and giant spaceships to work with! When it came time to mix the project, we pulled out all the stops, really playing with the 5.1 surround space, treating it more like a film mix for a very engaged and focused audience. 

Kate Finan: Waffles + Mochi’s Restaurant was a very interesting mixed media project  for us: it combined live action footage, puppets, homespun (non-computer generated) special effects, and animation overlays. Creatively, we knew that we wanted to honor the production’s use of these different storytelling vehicles to bring more pizazz to the content than you would get in a straight-forward live action children’s and family series. So, we really highlighted the quirky hand-drawn animation overlays with outside-the-box sound design choices that conveyed a feeling of whimsy such as fireworks, cork pops, mangled xylophone glisses, etc. We also amped up their homespun special effects (like Waffles + Mochi’s jet, which was created with a handcrafted miniature on a string) by adding over the top realistic sound effects like huge jet bys and sci-fi warp-speed builds. We truly dug into the style of the visuals and attempted to not just match them, but add to them with sound.

PH: Jeff, which scene was your favorite to work on in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? And similarly, Kate, can you talk about which scene was your favorite to work on in Waffles + Mochi?

Jeff Shiffman: There is a scene in the climax of the movie where our hero and villain are fighting head to head while falling through a void. I continue to be blown away by how Directors Andy Suriano and Ant Ward tell stories. It’s so cinematic yet very intimate. 

Kate Finan: My favorite scene by far in this season of Waffles + Mochi’s Restaurant was when Waffles and Mochi are making bread, and they accidentally feed the starter too much. It grows and grows until it becomes a giant dough monster blob. This scene was an incredible one for our team to showcase their sound design prowess while also embracing our inner children who still love fart jokes!

PH: Can you each describe these respective scenes and the significance they have to the rest of the projects?

Jeff Shiffman: It’s the culmination of a massive fight sequence, but we have a moment where things start to go quiet. The camera pulls back to show the sheer scale of things so we made the conscious choice to pull things back in the audio mix and feature the quiet of the scene. The perspective shift and relative emptiness really add a weight to the struggle. It’s moments like this that I just love as a re-recording mixer. As fun as it is to play with bombastic craziness elsewhere in the movie, when we can focus on the heart of a moment and help push the story forward, it’s so rewarding.  

Kate Finan: With any project, there’s always the option to cover what’s on the screen and move on. We could have simply added realistic squishes to this dough monster. But, one of our biggest tenets at Boom Box Post is that we don’t just work with the incredible visuals we’re given, but we strive to use sound to embrace the storytelling direction those visuals give to us and then use sound to amplify them. In that vein, we added layer upon layer of disgusting of squish sound effects and got really creative about our source material (think: stirring a bowl of Velveeta shells and cheese). Then, we really brought the dough monster to life by adding a “vocal” aspect made up of a symphony of fart sounds. These farts, while childish, really gave life to the monster and allowed the audience to viscerally feel that it had come to life and perhaps had a mind of its own! Those scenes ended up having so much fantastic movement and personality. 

PH: What tools, plugins, or instruments did you each use in your production of these scenes?

Both: We work in Pro Tools for editorial and mixing and use a relatively simple setup from a technical standpoint. It’s a single mixer on an AVID S3 and Dock. For reverbs, we use Stratus and Revibe. 

PH: What technical challenges did you both encounter while working on these scenes?

Jeff Shiffman: A lot of the dialogue for the movie was recorded during Covid with home setups, requiring some cleanup. Izotope RX was instrumental for DeReverb as well as removing any unwanted noise, pops and clicks. We utilized FabFilter’s EQ for ADR matching; I love the visual feedback of that plugin. All spotting and previewing before the mix was done remotely, but luckily by the time we mixed we were all able to be in the same room. 

Kate Finan: Waffles + Mochi was very challenging from a technical perspective. The episode we submitted for Emmys this year, “Bread,” had a lot of cleanup that needed to be done on the production dialogue. There were a number of odd dialogue cuts that were made for story reasons that we had to make work from a technical standpoint. We also ran into a major hiccup in a scene where Big Freedia shows Waffles and Mochi how to make beignets. When they’re finished with the beignets, she teaches them a dance to a song “Release Your Wiggles.” They played the song very loudly during the production shoot for them to ad lib their dance moves over. But, they also ad libbed dialogue while dancing with the song playing. Then, when the editor cut the scene together, they obviously cut down the material. So, when we placed the song over the top in post, it was not possible to match what was heard in the production audio, but we could not remove the production audio because it was needed for their dialogue.  ADR wasn’t a possibility for them, so I really had to finagle the music edits to make it work, and also to find a volume that was loud enough in the domestic version (when combined with the music heard in the production track) but also would not be too quiet in the foreign versions (when the production dialogue was removed and replaced with foreign language ADR). 

PH: What was the dialogue like between you and the producing team for Waffles & Mochi’s Restaurant, Kate? And Jeff, what was the collaborative process like between you and the directors of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie?

Jeff Shiffman: I’ve worked with Ant and Andy for years now. It’s a tremendous advantage to have dozens of hours of producing TV together under our belts. There’s a mutual trust that allowed us the freedom to really explore ideas in the sound editorial phase, and by the mix we had everything in shape so that we could really have fun with the project, carving out moments rather than solving technical issues. Collaborating with friends is the ultimate luxury in this business, and not a single day on the Rise movie felt like work to me; just pure, creative fun.

Kate Finan: We had a very open and ongoing dialogue with the production team on Waffles + Mochi’s Restaurant. Erika Thormahlen and Jeremy Konner, the Executive Producers, were wonderful collaborators. They had an extremely concise vision of what they were looking for in order to tell the story and capture the hearts and attention of their audience. We were also constantly in contact with the post production team because, with the mixed media involved, we were constantly working with picture at varying stages of completion. We certainly met the challenges of each stage of post production as a team.

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